Industry Insights
July 21, 2023

Mental Health and DEIB in the Workplace

Written by
Kristen Colley, LMFT
Reviewed by
Updated on

At Two Chairs, we believe that mental health and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are inextricably connected. We’re building a world where everyone has access to exceptional mental health care, and that can’t exist without DEIB. 

We recently brought on Aubrey Harrison, PhD, a clinical psychologist and DEIB expert, as our new Senior Manager of DEIB to help us fulfill that mission by building out diversity, equity, and inclusion programs within Two Chairs. 

I sat down with him to learn more about his work and his perspectives on mental health and DEIB within organizations.

Kristen Colley: How did you find yourself working in DEIB as a career?  Was it something you always wanted to do, or a passion found later in your working life?

Aubrey Harrison: I found myself working in DEIB because I was passionate about making sure people with diverse perspectives and voices feel included. When I was pursuing my PhD in Clinical Psychology, my research focused on the experience and impact of racism among Black youth. It was such rewarding work, but I knew there was more that needed to be done. 

As I began to apply my work in the real world, I started to see the systemic impact of decisions made by those in charge on underserved communities. That’s when I decided that I should start doing work related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging — to make sure those decisions are made with everyone in mind.

Colley: What are common struggles or barriers you find within organizations that are trying to live within the values of DEIB?

Harrison: I often find that organizations feel like this work is too difficult for them. It's easier to make a statement, donate money to another organization, and provide diversity training once a year. The problem is that, when the work stops there, there isn't any real commitment to making the workplace more inclusive, and real change doesn’t actually happen. 

Colley: How do you utilize your Clinical Psychology degree to further your effectiveness in advocating for DEIB within organizations?

Harrison: My Clinical Psychology degree is probably one of my greatest assets for this work because, not only do I have the research background to understand how systems impact people, teams, and organizations, but I also have the expertise in guiding people through how they can live out diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in everything they do —whether that’s at work or at home. 

Colley: What excited you about joining Two Chairs?

Harrison: Two Chairs excited me because of our mission to provide exceptional mental health care for all. Imagine making that a reality —we would see people from all backgrounds getting the support they need to thrive in all areas of life with culturally responsive care. 

So when I saw that mission and thought about my previous DEIB work, I thought this could be the place where I truly see all people, regardless of who they are, receive the care that they deserve. And that felt really inspiring to me.

Additionally, it’s very clear to me that Two Chairs is committed to DEIB, and while we still have a lot of work to do to fulfill our mission, people across all of our internal teams — from clinical to product to care coordination and everything in between — are dedicated to weaving DEIB into the culture and framework of Two Chairs to make our mission a reality. 

Colley: What impact have you seen on mental health at organizationswhere DEIB is prioritized? What about on the flip side, where it’s not prioritized?

Harrison: When DEIB is prioritized, you see people thriving at their jobs, feeling included in the culture of an organization, believing that they can show up as themselves, and experiencing less stress and anxiety. 

When it is not prioritized, you often get a homogenous workplace that is stunted in its growth and fails to retain remarkable talent. Now more than ever, people are looking for jobs that allow their work lives to feel as supportive and fulfilling as their personal lives, and that needs to take into account who they are, what they do, and how included they feel in the spaces they occupy at work.

Colley: How do you see mental health and DEI intertwining within organizations now and in the future?

Harrison: Especially over the past few years, organizations everywhere are realizing that they need to make employee well-being a central focus and top priority, encompassing mental health, physical health and emotional health together as a whole. And in order to be effective at their jobs, people need to feel like they’re in the right mindset.

That’s where DEIB and mental health become intertwined — the more we can help people feel like who they are is a part of company culture and that they belong in the workplace, the better their well-being and therefore their work will be.   

If you or someone you know is seeking mental health care, you can book a matching appointment with Two Chairs here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency or crisis and needs immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Additional resources can be found here.

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